Monday, 13 August 2007

The Internet: Documenting Hypocrisy Since 1990

One of the great things about the Internet is that it creates an easily accessible record of everything public officials do. Although there have always been records (old newspaper, old tv footage) it was difficult to access, and once found, difficult to distribute. The Internet changed all of this, particularly the latest incarnation of the Internet. Since 2000, there has been a virtual explosion in online user interactivity, with blogs being a part of this. I am an optimist in the regard that I think the open, interactive, democratic Internet will have a very profound impact on how we think and act, worldwide. It's already starting to change politics, with a number of unscrupulous congressmen losing the last election because their behaviour was recorded and posted to YouTube.

Here is a short example of a very revealing video from April 15, 1994:

The transcript from Editor and Publisher is as follows:

Q: Do you think the U.S., or U.N. forces, should have moved into Baghdad?

Cheney: No.

Q: Why not?

Cheney: Because if we'd gone to Baghdad we would have been all alone. There wouldn't have been anybody else with us. There would have been a U.S. occupation of Iraq. None of the Arab forces that were willing to fight with us in Kuwait were willing to invade Iraq.

Once you got to Iraq and took it over, took down Saddam Hussein's government, then what are you going to put in its place? That's a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government of Iraq, you could very easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off: part of it, the Syrians would like to have to the west, part of it -- eastern Iraq -- the Iranians would like to claim, they fought over it for eight years. In the north you've got the Kurds, and if the Kurds spin loose and join with the Kurds in Turkey, then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey.

It's a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq.

The other thing was casualties. Everyone was impressed with the fact we were able to do our job with as few casualties as we had. But for the 146 Americans killed in action, and for their families -- it wasn't a cheap war. And the question for the president, in terms of whether or not we went on to Baghdad, took additional casualties in an effort to get Saddam Hussein, was how many additional dead Americans is Saddam worth?

Our judgment was, not very many, and I think we got it right.

For the curious, the official casualty count so far is 3689 US soldiers (dead), 27,279 US soldiers (maimed), roughly 70,000 Iraqi civilians documented as dead, and an unknown number dead and wounded that have not been documented.

Thanks, Dick.

This picture has made the rounds many times on the Internet, but it's worth seeing again.

This is from Donald Rumsfeld's 1983 trip to Iraq on 19-20 Dec. You can clearly see Rumsfeld and Hussein shaking hands. This trip was made more than a year after Saddam committed the atrocities against the Kurds for which he was executed, and it was widely known at the time that he was using chemical weapons. That did not matter to us at the time. (See here for a detailed timeline with documentation about the US relationship with Saddam in the 1980s.) I do not intend to imply we can never meet with brutal leaders or that we never make mistakes - the issue here is not that Rumsfeld met Hussein; the issue is the reconstruction of history, the elaborate fabrication that we have always opposed Saddam and always wanted to invade Iraq.

Thanks to the Internet, and users who are willing to do a little digging, there can no longer be a memoryhole. As more and more people go online, the more democratic our communication will be.

No comments: